“I only have five minutes before I have to get to the airport,” Madison Cox politely explained Wednesday afternoon. In recent months life for the urbane landscape designer has been nonstop.
Attending an intimate luncheon Wednesday afternoon at Christie’s in New York to celebrate Phaidon’s launch of “Yves Saint Laurent Accessories,” Cox is returning to Marrakech in preparation for the opening of the Yves Saint Laurent museum there next week.
“I’m based in New York, but I’ve been spending the last couple of years in Marrakech during the planning and construction of the museum there, which we’ve built from the ground up,” said Cox, who is also director of the Majorelle Garden in the Moroccan city. “I spend about a week a month there.”
The widower of Yves Saint Laurent cofounder Pierre Bergé, Cox serves as director of the Saint Laurent museum in Paris as well as the soon-to-be-opened North African institution. Bergé, who was also former life partner of the eponymous designer, died last month at age 86.
“I wouldn’t say it’s bittersweet, but it’s a very emotional moment,” Cox said of his late husband’s absence. “[Pierre] was very involved in the two museums from the beginning. He knew all about this book and saw it just before he passed away.”
The 59-year-old went on to say how Bergé and Saint Laurent began collecting sketches, press clippings, photographs as well as clothing and accessory samples almost immediately after founding the label in 1961. “I don’t know if they had intention for these to be exhibited in museums, but they obviously knew what they were doing was something very important.”
These rich archives were utilized by author Patrick Mauriès in developing his recently released tome that provides a retrospective of the late designer’s couture accessories. The new museums in Paris and Marrakech will offer a more extensive look at Saint Laurent’s prolific career.
The Parisian institution, which opened earlier this month, houses this massive archive of nearly 15,000 accessories and 5,000 dresses as well as the paper ephemera. Marrakech will become “more like a cultural center” with rotating exhibitions and programs.
“Only 300 of those dresses will be shown [there] on a rotating basis of about 50 or 60 at a time,” Cox continued. “They can’t be shown [for long] because they start to deform due to the weight [of the garments].”
In addition to the Saint Laurent collection, there will be a temporary exhibition space dedicated to work from contemporary Moroccan artists, an auditorium that will present live broadcasts including opera from the Paris Bastille and a reference library. The museum will also host ongoing competitions for young classical musicians to display their talent.
“All of these things don’t exist in Marrakech — there’s no public library there,” he added. “We touch on garden design, Berber culture, fashion, Moroccan architecture and culture. All of that will be available to the general public. It’s a much more dynamic space.”
“It was interesting for me because I hadn’t been to a show [in so long],” he remarked. “I don’t go to fashion shows. It’s a completely different world. I think he was fantastic. I went [to the Yves Saint Laurent show] 25 years ago, and it’s a completely different world today, obviously, which is important to accept. But I think he’s fantastic.”
“I don’t know anything about fashion so don’t ask me,” added Cox with a laugh as he dashed out of the auction house.
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